Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Me pondering how to use a squat toilet at a Chinese food restaraunt near Bukut Bintang.
Sit or Squat?
From the time that we are potty trained, we all take using a toilet for granted. When I first travelled to Asia I was surprised to learn that all toilets are not created equal. Unlike the "sit toilets" that we are accustomed to in the US, most of the toilets in Malaysia, and throughout Asia are "squat toilets".
For those of us used to "sit toilets", using a squat toilet can be an adventure.
That is why the first thing that I did after I moved into my new apartment was to determine the location of all nearby "sit toilets". For example, all of the toilets in the pulic restroom in the Amcorp Mall are squatters. It is fairly easy to find sit toilets on UM campus if you know where to look. So far I have not been forced to squat when I needed to sit (however, if you buy me a beer sometime then I will tell you about my experience using a squat toilet in Mentakab, Malaysia during my visit last March).
Here is a photo of a squat toilet in the Public Restroom of Sungei Wang Mall in Bukit Bintang.
You can notice two important differences between this toilet stall and one you would see back home. First, there is no place to sit. Thus, you must assume a squatting position to use this toilet, which is no easy feat for an inflexible, old guy like me). Because they have squatted their whole lives (Malaysians will often assume a squatting position while they are resting), they seem to be very flexible so they have no problem using this style of toilet.
Second, notice that there is no toilet paper holder. That's because they don't use toilet paper to "clean up" after using the toilet. Instead, notice the hose which is used to instead of toilet paper (I am really not sure exactly how this works. All Malaysian bathtrooms, including the one in my apartment (which thankfully came equipped with a beautiful western "sitter") have a drain to allow water to escape after use.
Sometimes It Is Even More Complicated!
Not all Malaysian toilets are equipped with a hose! If there is no hose, then you are provided with a bucket and ladel to take the place of toilet paper. I can guarantee you that my Mom never taught me what to do with a bucket and pail when I was a kid. You can imagine how I felt the first time that I had to use that. The moral to the story is - always carry some TP.